Flower society has to call time after 140 years

End of an era: Members of the group pictured at  Clarence Park.
End of an era: Members of the group pictured at Clarence Park.

A flower society that dates back 140 years has disbanded after holding its final meeting.

Wakefield Paxton Society was formed in 1877 by head gardeners of the district’s wealthy estates and hosted popular flower shows throughout the years.

From left: Steward Tony Lomas, Show Chairman Michael Atkinson, Steward Sue Atkinson and Show Secretary Jeff Rhodes.

From left: Steward Tony Lomas, Show Chairman Michael Atkinson, Steward Sue Atkinson and Show Secretary Jeff Rhodes.

But Jeff Rhodes – who has served as president of the society for 20 years and been a member since 1975 – said it decided to call it a day because members were aging and the group was finding it difficult to attract new people.

Mr Rhodes, 87, said: “It’s been a sad thing after going so long. It would have been good to see it on but there just weren’t enough able bodied people.

“We used to do two shows a year at Outwood Memorial Hall, which were always successful. Before that we used to host them at Wakefield Town Hall.The younger generation aren’t gardeners, there are much easier things to do.

“All gardening societies are going the same way, they’re all struggling. But I have thoroughly enjoyed my involvement with the society. Gardening has been my hobby throughout my life.”

Of the money that was left in the society’s coffers £500 was given to Friends of CHaT Parks, while £628 was each given to Wakefield Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Care.

Dozens of people took part in the society’s final show, which was held in April last year.

The Normanton and Altofts branch of the society folded in 2007.

Paxton societies are named after Sir Joseph Paxton, who was born in 1803.

The gardener, architect and member of parliament was best known for designing Crystal Palace in London.

Wakefield Paxton Society was set up when wealthy mill owners and landlords had large houses with grounds and gardens to maintain.

Head gardeners and labourers would lodge near the stately homes where they worked and would meet socially.